NORTH BEND — It's very rare that a restaurant has all the kinks worked out when it first opens.
There are a lot of unknowns when you open: How much staff do you need? How busy will you be? Do I have enough chopsticks?
If you look at Zen's Facebook page, you see from the comments that they have had a few of the usual issues.
Zen Authentic Thai & Sushi just opened a few weeks ago at 1930 Newmark St. in the shopping center near the corner of Newmark and Broadway (the old LaCosta Peruvian restaurant).
One interesting thing I noted in the comments for Zen was that even the people who talked about long waits, or missing items also commented on how good the food was.
So, as usual, sports editor John Gunther and I snuck in last week for lunch. With John's busy schedule this week (the 3A state basketball tournament is in town) we had to move our normal Monday lunch up a few days.
I had hoped to go closer to their opening, but John wisely suggested we give them a few weeks to get their feet under them before we visited.
If you visited the restaurant when it was LaCosta, you will notice some renovations have taken place since the restaurant changed hands. Gone are the booths in the main section of the restaurant, opened up and replaced with (9) four-person tables and six seats at the sushi bar.
The banquet room that was separate from the restaurant is now opened up to the main restaurant area and we were told that they are currently converting the back half of that room into a saki bar (something to look forward to).
Now the Bay Area has a fusion restaurant that serves Thai food and sushi. So, if one of the people in your party wants Thai food and another wants sushi, here's a place that fits the bill for both.
After rolling through the menu, John decided on the Thai staple Pad Thai, which is sauteed rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and ground peanuts. He had his with the chicken.
I was going back and forth. They have a Thai Sushi Combo, which is three pieces of sushi, an 8-piece California Roll and a selection from the Thai lunch menu. That was my initial choice, but I decided to go with the Garlic Sauce meal. It is also on the lunch special meal. It comes with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and I ordered my meal with chicken.
So that we also took part in the other half of the name of the restaurant, John decided to get a couple orders of the tuna sushi.
Very good. We didn't go out on too big of a limb with our selection of tuna. The Facebookers also seem to be very happy with the sushi.
Then the main dishes arrived.
The first thing John said when he looked at my plate, was "Look at all the vegetables."
Then after a few photos, we dug in.
It only took one bite of the garlic sauce to know I had a winner. All the veggies were done well and the chicken was very good.
John said the Pad Thai was also very good.
Since we went for an early lunch, we didn't notice any of the time issues some of the folks on Facebook had experienced. Those around us for lunch that day also seemed to be getting their orders fairly quickly.
John and I got to Zen a few minutes after 11 and I had to get him back into downtown Coos Bay for a noon meeting. He made it right on time.